A34 sprint bus connecting Walsall and Birmingham to be signed off
Transport bosses are set to sign off on a new £88 million tram-style bus service connecting Walsall and Birmingham to ensure it is ready for the Commonwealth Games.
The Sprint service will run along the A34 between Walsall, Great Barr and Birmingham and include routes to Birmingham Airport and Solihull.
The buses will use designated lanes and be given traffic light priority at busy junctions to ensure journeys are as fast and smooth as possible, and will be similar in design and operation to trams that run on the Midland Metro. Cross-city services will also run in Birmingham.
Members of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) board are expected to approve the full business case, including funding and the timetable for the project, on Friday. (14th)
It is hoped the service will help take some of the strain off train services during the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “The first phase of the Sprint scheme will see the introduction of a brand-new, cross-city service running in time to ferry thousands of visitors around the region for the Commonwealth Games.
“The scheme is also a key part of our transport revolution which is, after decades of under investment, delivering new bus, rail, Metro and cycle schemes to serve the people of the West Midlands for generations to come.
“Pending approval of the business case at the WMCA board, we will be able to get on with delivering yet another transport scheme the West Midlands can be proud of.”
Councillor Ian Ward, the WMCA's head of transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The eyes of the world will be on Birmingham and the West Midlands during 2022 so I am delighted that we will have this efficient new Sprint bus service to move people around and showcase the best our region has to offer.
“Sprint is also part of our wider plans to transform the way we travel. Through enhancing bus shelters and providing priority for Sprint and other existing services, we are offering people a reliable and sustainable alternative to car when travelling around Birmingham. It’s all part of our commitment to tackling road congestion and climate change.”
The Sprint bus scheme has not been without controversy in Walsall. Residents and businesses along the A34 have raised concerns about loss of parking and trade.
Walsall Council leader Mike Bird has also bemoaned increasing measures which he says are targeting car drivers.